Ah, Valentine’s Day – cards, heart-shaped chocolates with strawberry fondant centres and various ballads emanating from the local radio station. At least these seem to be the standard British practices on the 14th February, but at Chateau de Bois Giraud you are positively encouraged to create your traditions. However, there is one by-gone, and frankly bizarre French custom that we would prefer you refrain from practicing –   “une loterie d’amour” aka “ drawing for love”.

In years gone by, various bachelors and spinsters of community would enter  houses that faced opposite each other and then standing by the window calling the name of their hoped-for intended,. However, if a chap rather unchivalrously decided that he was not attracted to the lady in question, he would make good his exit  and  so the ceremony ended with a custom that possessed  vague but sinister overtones of The Wicker Man. The various spurned ladies of the community would join forces and burn images of the various rotters, hurling abuse all the while.

In fact,  photographs of the bounder and even his belongings might also be thrown into the flames. Not entirely surprisingly, the French government eventually banned the  loterie and we do not think it entirely appropriate for the Chateau. Firstly, the layout of  the building does not really fit the with the ritual and secondly, burning pictures and i-pods of male guests rarely makes for a harmonious atmosphere in the days immediately after the 14th February. Thirdly, there are far better uses of the barbeque near the swimming pool.

Instead, why not follow my practice and relax in the drawing room, while listening to the stylings of Jake Thackray – Yorkshire-born but a complete Francophile. And, after the last strains of Lah-Di-Dah – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK3eaaANVU8 – why not watch possibly the most romantic film in the history of French cinema – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFpSMr208iA. Joyeuse Saint Valentin !